Chess - The Musical 2014
Date: 1 November 2014
Venue: Heworth Grange School, Gateshead
Type of Production: Musical
Producer / Director: Bea Atkinson
Musical Director: Jonny Winter
Choreographer: Rachael Allsopp
Review Author: Foster Johnson
WOW! WOW! WOW! What a Show!
Felling Stage Society’s production of Chess was a brilliant success.
Based upon the musical talents of ABBA’s Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and with the lyrics of Sir Tim Rice it tells the tale of the political machinations and intrigue surrounding the murky world of chess in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
One may think it is a staid subject to deal with, but the Society turned in a magical night’s entertainment. It was so full of vitality, energy and passion that the audience were swept up by it and felt that they were part of the action, not just witnessing it from afar.
The mood was established from the start by the simple, but clever, set design including back projections, which added a new dimension, and lighting. This was in no small measure to the talents of Stage Manager David Rose and lighting expert Paul Oliver and their Crew.
The onerous task of handling the intricate music to ensure tempos and continuity were kept was in the very capable and talented hands of Musical Director Johnny Winter and his excellent Orchestra and what a fine job they did.
To ensure that all this effort is not wasted you need a strong and talented cast to bring it all to life. There were no worries on this account. They were a “Tour De Force” The strength of the show relies upon the quality and talents of the seven Principals, and, because of the complexities of the musical numbers, there can be no weaknesses. There were none.
Chris Wain (Anatoly Sergievsky) Ian Nugent (Freddie Trumper) Marie Swan (Florence Vassy) Lyn Sutherland (Svetlana Sergievsky) Owen Gillfellon (Alexander Molokov) Alan Tomkins (Walter de Courcey) and Jonny Woollett (The Arbiter) were outstanding. They all brought their own interpretation and talents to the fore, and sang with great belief and passion. I do have a soft spot for show standards, however, and the highlights for me were Anthem, Heaven Help My Heart, One Night in Bangkok, You and I and I Know Him So Well.
The citizens of Merano, Reporters, Delegates and Civil Servants were played by the company and they too, made a telling contribution to the Show with some find singing and supporting roles. A special word of thanks also to the Choreographer, Rachel Allsopp, and her dancers, whose contribution added that little something extra to the Show.
Of course all this would not have been possible without the conceptual ideas to bring it to life. Step forward Bea Atkinson. Not only carrying out the role of Society Secretary, which for all of us who have undertaken such a role know only too well is a monumental task, she found the time, energy and vision to bring this Show to us. Well done to you and also to your Officers, Committee and Front of House staff for a memorable evening’s entertainment.
Here are some of the photos taken by Stagedoor Photography during our dress rehearsal